Ah, yes, there you are. I was expecting you, of course, at exactly this time. Step through my beaded curtain and have a seat on the pile of pillows. Don’t knock over the candles, please. They’re critical. Perhaps you can see their flickering reflections deep in my cracked crystal ball? Well, I can see even more than that in there, believe me. Relax and let me tell you what will happen in the third episode of Survivor:Thailand.
I see a procession of weary Chuay Gahns stumbling back to camp after an emotional Tribal Council. In the lead is Jan, weeping uncontrollably. This time, though, the tears are joyful. With Tanya’s departure, the average age of the tribe is inching closer to that of her weekly bridge group. As the younger players disappear, Jan’s odds of being booted strictly for being old become more and more remote. Behind the sobbing Jan is Brian, whose eyes are also filled with tears. The most beautiful woman in his tribe is now gone, and she left before he could ask her if she’d ever petted a live python. Ever since appearing in “Greatstroke: The Legend of Hardman, Lord of the Trouser Snakes,” he’d never failed to get some action after that lead-in. Shuffling along behind Brian is Helen, who has been fitted with a custom muzzle made of vines after inadvertently taking a nip out of Clay’s shoulder while preparing to leave Tribal Council. The male members of the tribe, and in particular, Ted, are covered with scrapes and abrasions earned during the fight to squeeze Helen’s wayward jaw shut. Bringing up the rear are Ted and Ghandia, who are whispering quietly to each other about ways to eliminate the rest of the tribe.
Upon arriving at camp, everyone turns in for the night except Ghandia, who volunteers to tend the fire, and Ted, who says he will collect some coconuts for the morning meal. Shortly, the rest of the tribe is snoozing peacefully. Under the protective drone of Clay’s thunderous snoring, Ted and Ghandia reconvene by the fire to continue scheming. As they talk, a coconut tumbles from the breakfast pile and rolls, unnoticed, into the fire. Ted and Ghandia finish plotting and turn in for the night. Hours later, the superheated coconut explodes like a giant kernel of popcorn! The tribe members scramble out of bed in a panic. Amidst the confusion, Helen leaps atop a convenient boulder and begins barking orders to her tribemates: “Form a defensive parameter! Fall back by twos! Conserve ammunition!” The tattered remains of the vine muzzle dangle around her neck, shredded by the sheer intensity of Helen’s desire to utilize her jaw for yelling. The frightened and confused Chuay Gahn spend the remainder of the night huddled around Helen’s boulder, waiting for the next salvo from their unseen enemy.
Back at Sook Jai, the sun rises on a well-rested group of dysfunctional freaks. Jed’s legs stick out from under the hut like the Wicked Witch of the East, only without the pretty red shoes and striped stockings. The perilously ill Stephanie is being gently rocked back and forth by the ocean waves after deciding to bed down just below the high tide marker. Her breaths come in painful rattling rasps, and her face is covered with mucus, but at least she hasn’t spent a single minute in the shelter. Robb is up early this day, trying to plow his skateboard through the sand for a bitchen morning ride. His face is a mask of bewilderment under his ratty cap as he tries to comprehend the mysterious and immutable laws of friction and weight ratios. Shii Ann and Jake wake up and head off to check tree mail.
At first, it appears that nothing is waiting, but a quick double-take by both Survivors reveals a tiny red hat in the box. When Shii Ann pulls at the hat, an elite soldier unfurls himself from the box and springs in front of the startled pair. His balance is clearly superior, his reflexes so finely tuned he responds to personal threats moments before they actually take place. He is completely unassailable. He is a Red Beret. Immediately, other Red Berets emerge from the shadows, the trees, and the sand. In moments, Jake and Shii Ann are surrounded by four hyper-alert soldiers clearly ready for action. They wordlessly head to the Sook Jai camp. Jake and Shii Ann follow.
Back at camp, everyone’s now awake. They all stare dumbly at the approaching procession. Stephanie yo-yos a snot line back into her nose and swallows. Her speckled, swollen tongue sneaks out of her mouth. Robb reverently whispers, “Dude!” and removes his hat. The soldierly quartet stands stoically before the group and waits for them to fall completely silent. Then the soldiers remove their hats and clasp their hands in front of themselves before reciting the clue for the Reward Challenge in unison:
Your supply of beans may be running low,
You may sense impending doom,
But more can be had in the next Challenge,
If you know how to go boom!
Following the delivery of the clue, one of the Red Berets raises his arms and instantly blends in with the tree cover behind him. One disappears by burrowing rapidly into the sand. One darts into the water and swims away. The last leaps into the air and flies off. All is once again quiet in Sook Jai beach. Finally, Robb speaks, “Sweet, dudes! It’s a farting contest!” Quickly, the tribe tears open their unopened cans of beans and wolfs them down before heading off to the Reward Challenge.
When they arrive, Chuay Gahn is already there, waiting. Oddly, they’ve brought torches and a handful of coconuts. Before they have time to even think about this new development, Jeff appears, borne on the shoulders of two Red Berets running so fast they appear to be just smudges of color. The Berets stop instantly a few feet in front of the assembled Survivors, propelling Jeff into the ground, where he digs a two-foot deep trough with the crown of his head. Unfazed, Jeff leaps up and dusts himself off before introducing the players to the new challenge: “Years ago, during the War of 1812, this island was the world’s largest armored tank factory. Soldiers of fortune from around the world would gather here and receive expert training in hand-to-hand combat and riflery while the factories would crank out their custom tanks. After a year’s time, the soldiers would drive off in their new tanks and join key battles just in time to turn back the enemy! Wanna know what you’re playing for?”
The puzzled Survivors nod dumbly, wondering if Jeff will actually describe the structure of the Challenge at any point. Jeff points to a Red Beret, who drops to a knee and produces a can of beans with a blindingly fast wave of his hand. “A can of beans!” Jeff crows proudly. “And we’ll also send two of these elite soldiers to your camp to see how you’re doing. Survivors ready? GO!”
Jake pulls a hayseed out of his mouth and asks the question on everyone’s mind. “So what are we supposed to do?”
Jeff looks perturbed. “It’s called Tank Takeout. Go!”
Penny waves her pom-poms around and executes an excited “wiggly jump” with her hands in the air. “I saw that on Combat Missions!” she squeals. “Do we get MILES gear?”
Jeff shakes his head quickly. “No, today we’re dealing with live ammunition. Go!” Suddenly, the chatter of machine gun fire fills the air, and everyone hits the deck.
“Dude, aren’t these supposed to be ‘all-new’ challenges, Jeff?” Robb yells.
A helicopter appears overhead, and a frothy Mark Burnett hangs out the side. “It’s new to Survivor, you ignorant pig!” he screams. “Now get your ass down before it gets shot off!”
In the distance, a pair of armored tanks are visible, each bearing a tribal flag. The rattled Survivors begin a military crawl in the direction of the tanks, except for Clay, who finds he is able to walk comfortably without having to crouch since he is only three feet tall, and Helen, who catches bullets out of the air with her teeth and eats them.
Upon arriving at the tanks, the two teams set about trying to blow them up. The Sook Jai quickly fan out around the tank in three-point stances and begin firing away. Choking, spluttering soldiers pour of the tank, but the tank itself is impervious to the horrible stench. Meanwhile, Chuay Gahn, who has sorted through all the facts and rumors about the explosion the night before, begins to heat up their coconuts. Within minutes, they’re rolling red-hot coconuts under the tank. Almost immediately, they all detonate, neutralizing the tank. Chuay Gahn finally wins!
Jeff sends two of the Red Berets with Chuay Gahn back to their camp as bean escorts. En route, the soldiers kill curious monkeys and other miscellaneous wildlife just to ensure they don’t steal the beans. When they arrive at the cave, the Berets offer their assessment of the survivability of the camp in the form of raucous laughter. Barely able to breathe from their hysterical giggling, the Berets can say nothing more and are forced to disappear once again.
Days later, the Berets are once again a central part of the action as the tribes gather for the Immunity Challenge. Jeff explains that the ancient Thais were known for their ability to brawl with one another back in prehistoric times. Today’s challenge will showcase the Survivors’ ability to match the long-gone Thais of years past. “It’s called The Grid,” says Jeff, “and before you say anything, Robb, yes, this is an old ‘Combat Missions’ challenge. But again, it’s new to Survivor!” Robb pouts because he didn’t get to say anything. “Each of you must climb onto these floating pontoons and knock each other off!” Jeff wipes his drooling mouth with the back of his hand. “Last tribe with someone standing wins Immunity!”
Mark Burnett’s voice rings out from the dense trees in the distance: “And no hiding in the back like Helvenston!”
The teams swim out to the pontoons. At Jeff’s signal, the tribes charge one another and all hell breaks loose. Finally unleashed, Helen and her flashing teeth are an awesome force. Bleeding Sook Jai members dive into the water to avoid losing fingers and toes. Brian dives in, too, his hands cradling his investment tenderly. Clay curls up in a ball like a hedgehog. Robb finds him and pries him open, then tries to pop his head off like a dandelion top. Ted leaps to his friend’s aid and knocks both men into the water with a flying samurai kick. In a matter of seconds, Ted and Helen are the only ones standing on the pontoons for Chuay Gahn. For Sook Jai, Stephanie still remains, slumped over and forgotten on the far end of the pontoons. She’s shivering and sniffling and hallucinating about friends long gone. Ted points at their last victim, then howls as Helen clamps onto his finger and shakes her head vigorously. Inexplicably, Ghandia chooses this moment to try to climb back onto the pontoons, a patently illegal maneuver. In the process, she trips Ted and he pulls Helen back into the water with him. “Sook Jai wins!” Jeff cries. Stephanie lifts her heavy head, her bleary eyes struggling to focus on Jeff, then sneezes wetly.
That night, at Tribal Council, the remaining Chuay Gahn finally realize that Ghandia has cost them three consecutive Immunity Challenges using a variety of techniques. In a belated strategic move, they eliminate her in a 4-2 vote.
The visions are fading now. Thankfully, I have foreseen all of the important elements of the show. Now settle in tonight and see if I’m not exactly 100% correct in my predictions. See you next week.
(I just went to the CBS web site to see what they had to say about the upcoming episode. Sounds like I was pretty close!
ON THE NEXT SURVIVOR
An incident between a man and a woman becomes explosive, as tribe members react differently to facts and rumors.
One tribe wins the help of two Red Berets – the equivalent of our Green Berets – who show the tribe how to make the best of everything around their camp, possibly gaining an advantage as better survivalists.
At a Challenge, tensions escalate, prompting a fierce confrontation between the two tribes.)